Before the 2011 season, the Los Angeles Clippers acquired Chris Paul. He was getting ready to team-up with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The day the Clippers made the move for Paul, Griffin said, “It’s going to be lob city.” This was the moment that the name “Lob City” was born.
It's official. Chris Paul is a Rocket. pic.twitter.com/K8omA7UaAB
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 15, 2017
At the time, fans and media were ready to claim them as the next great team. Six years later, here we are as Chris Paul departs LA and heads to Houston, where he will now play with All-Star, James Harden. Let’s take a closer look at the best run in Clippers franchise history.
Heading into the 2011-12 season, the Clippers franchise had suffered through 18-straight losing seasons. A streak of futility that left the fan base and team in disarray. Coach Vinny Del Negro led the team to two straight post-season appearances during the 2011-12, and 2012-13 seasons to begin the “Lob City” era. They went 40-26, and 56-26 in those years respectively. Clipper basketball was back in LA, yet Del Negro was ousted as coach when they failed to advance past the 2nd round in the Western Conference playoffs.
Clippers then added championship-winning coach Doc Rivers to try and get this team over the hump in the postseason. His first season was the 2013-14 season in which LA finished 57-25, which was good enough for the 3rd seed in the West. After beating the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, they came up short once again in the conference semis vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. It seemed like this was becoming the norm for this team, as they could never stay fully healthy throughout the season.
During the next few seasons, the Clippers accomplished records of 56-26, 53-29, and most recently 51-31 this past season. Considering that, a complete failure is unfair. This team brought life back to Clipper basketball and made it exciting again, after so many years of ugly, ugly basketball.
Not to mention, they took over most of the buzz from the city rival, Los Angeles Lakers. During this six-year run for the Clippers, they finished with an overall record of 313-163, and made the post-season every season. Doesn’t sound like a failure to me whatsoever. Yes, they never accomplished their goal of winning a championship, or even getting past the second round in the west, but that shows how hard it truly is to win in this league.
During these years, the Clippers also saw the likes of JJ Redick, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Eric Bledsoe, Paul Pierce, Grant Hill, and others put on a jersey and play for them. These teams were fun to watch, and Clippers fans will miss them. As for the three main stars that made this team “Lob City,” let’s take a closer look at their statistics during this era.
During Chris Paul’s six seasons as a Clipper he put up some impressive numbers. He’s one of the last true point guards in this league, as the game has evolved. He’s a great passer, but can score when he needs to. He averaged 18.8 points, 9.8 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. He shot 47.5% from the floor, including 37.8% from three, and managed to shoot 88.1% from the charity stripe.
Now let’s look at the two players Paul was lobbing passes to for six seasons: Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Griffin, selected #1 overall by the Clippers, has averaged 21.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists during his career. As for Jordan, his career took off during the 2013 season in which he averaged 10.4 points along with 13.4 rebounds. The following year he backed it up while averaging 11.5 points, and 15 rebounds. He’s slowly improved every year since then as well. With Paul now headed to Houston, it’s yet to be seen how Griffin and Jordan will play without him.
Overall, Clippers fans should appreciate the six years of “Lob City” basketball in LA. Paul led them from humility to relevancy again. They were by no means a failure. “Lob City” will be remembered by NBA fans many years down the road, but now it’s time for them to move onto the next chapter of their franchise.